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Haley Gorecki Has Been Waiting For Her Moment

(Photo by Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Haley Gorecki is used to waiting. After opening her freshman season on the bench, she started for the first time in the ninth game of the season, only to go 0-for-6 against UMass. Five games later, she suffered a season-ending hip injury.

Over the summer, she experienced a setback, and she waited out the entire 2016-17 season on the sideline. Returning in 2017-18, Gorecki flourished as a sharp-shooter, notching a career-best 42.3% from behind the arc, but this season was once again cut short by another injury to the hip. And the waiting continued.

Her second return from injury, in 2018-19, marked one of the best individual seasons in Duke history. Gorecki averaged 17.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.6 steals while starting all 30 contests and tying the program single-season record with 36.0 minutes per game. But Duke, after making the NCAA tournament in 2017 and 2018 when Gorecki was sidelined with hip injuries, missed out in 2019. So Gorecki waited for a shot in her fourth year of eligibility, as a graduate student.

Once again, Gorecki impressed. She was named to the All-ACC first team and defensive team. AP recognized her as Honorable Mention All-America and she was one of five finalists for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award as the top shooting guard in the nation. The stats speak for themselves, but the wins against Florida State and NC State down the stretch left many with the impression that Duke might sneak into the tournament.

Gorecki played 40 minutes and scored at least 20 points in both those games, including the final four against Florida State and the final five against NC State. Of course, instead of waiting for her team’s name to be called on selection Monday, Gorecki is waiting for a tournament bracket that will never be released, much less played.

“Obviously, that would have been my first tournament to play in, which was special to me,” Gorecki told Just Women’s Sports. “The way it ended, there was no closure in a sense. It was just sad.”

Nevertheless, Gorecki could look forward to the WNBA draft. Universally, Gorecki was viewed as a prospect, but there was little unanimity on where she might end up.

“I got a lot of phone calls from coaches in the WNBA who expressed interest in drafting me, so that helped to calm my nerves,” Gorecki said. “It made me feel a lot better knowing that I was being looked at as a prospect in the draft and that there was potential for me to be selected.”

Still, not knowing where she would be selected, Gorecki was antsy until draft day. Even then, she was left waiting.

“From talking to coaches, my name was always mentioned in the second round, early second round,” Gorecki said. “It was never in the third. When all of the names were being called, I kept thinking, ‘Okay, where’s my name?’”

With the 31st pick, the Seattle Storm drafted Gorecki. Even Storm head coach Dan Hughes thought Gorecki would be taken sooner, as his staff projected an alternate team to snatch her in the second round.

“Finally, my name popped up and I was relieved,” Gorecki recalled. “It’s funny because Seattle’s coach was actually the last coach I spoke with and now that’s where I’m headed. It all ended up working out in the end.”

As a third round pick and a rookie, nothing is guaranteed for Gorecki. The roster of 15 will need to be culled down to 12 spots.

“First and foremost, I want to make the team,” Gorecki said. “Then, I want to learn as much as I can because you never know how the team is going to be next year. Trades happen, people retire, things change. I want to learn from the people that have been playing in the league for the longest.”

That would be Sue Bird. The 39 year old guard and oldest active player is coming off a lost season due to a left knee surgery. Without her or 2018 League and Finals MVP Breanna Stewart for the 2019 season, the Storm were unable to defend their title. Still, Seattle was a playoff team last season, and the return of Stewart and Bird makes a crowded roster even more tight.

“Being in Seattle, I’ll be learning from the best. Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart — so many legends are on that team,” Gorecki said. “I’m excited to be a sponge and take in their experience and their advice. The coach is great. The organization is awesome. I’m ready to learn and compete.”

The guard position is especially packed. Last year, Jordin Canada emerged as a rising star averaging 9.8 points and 5.2 assists per game, good for third and first on the team, respectively. Former first overall pick Jewell Loyd made her second All-Star appearance and finished second on the team in scoring. Sami Whitcomb can play at the two, and last year was sixth on the team in scoring and third in assists. On top of it all, Bird is coming back.

Gorecki will face steep competition in training camp, whenever it starts. It is indisputable, however, that she will bring a lot to Seattle. Last year, her 166 made free throws were ninth in the college game, and at an efficient 85.6%. Her 554 points were 38th in the country.

“Haley is one of the most productive players in America in the college game,” Hughes said. “She has good size… she gets to the foul line about as well as any player in college basketball a year ago and she has high skill. With all that skill, there’s a toughness about her that was very, very attractive.”

Gorecki’s final college game, an ACC tournament quarterfinal loss to Boston College, epitomized her tenure in blue. She collected 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and a steal. She hit a three-pointer in her 17th straight contest and went 8-for-8 at the foul line. The game has also marked the beginning of her wait.

“There’s no definitive answer for when this is all going to start,” she said. “It’s all still up in the air and nobody has an answer.”

Until then she will, as always, stay ready. With her trainer over Zoom, Gorecki has been lifting, doing core and band work, and working on ball handling.

“You never know when they are going to say, ‘Okay, it’s time to come to training camp.’”

Seattle Reign Stars Barnes, Fishlock Back New USL W League Team

usl w league ballard vice president tiffany mallick holding an official usl w ball
Joining May 2025, Seattle’s USL W team will be the sixth in the league’s Northwest division. (Ballard FC/YouTube)

On Tuesday, 25 Seattle-based sports and business professionals announced their investment in a new USL W League team operated by popular semi-pro USL League Two men’s side Ballard FC.

Headlined by Lauren Barnes (Seattle Reign), Jess Fishlock (Seattle Reign), Olivia Van der Jagt (Seattle Reign), and Sam Hiatt (Gotham FC), alongside Seattle Storm co-owner Ginny Glider and Jen Barnes, owner of the women's sports-focused Rough & Tumble Pub, the yet-to-be-named Ballard squad will enter the pre-professional league next May.

Current Ballard FC president Sam Zisette will oversee both the men’s and women’s clubs, while vice president and seasoned athletic trainer Tiffany Mallick will shift her focus on the women's team.

"Our goal is to create better opportunities for young women to develop their skills on and off the field," said Reign captain Lauren Barnes in a team press release. "The path to professional soccer didn’t exist on the same scale while I was growing up, and I’m thrilled to be part of changing that for future players."

"Introducing a USL W League team to Ballard is a monumental step in advancing our organization and soccer community," added Zisette. "Ballard is a special place with an immense sense of pride, passionate spirit, and love for soccer. We can’t wait to see the community embrace this new team!"

Tampa Bay United Soccer Club
Launched in 2022, the USL W League now fields 80 teams across four conferences. (USL W League)

What is the USL?

The United Soccer League (USL), which organizes multiple US leagues across all divisions, has recently upped its commitment to the women's game.

In addition to the developmental USL W League — which started in 2022 and now fields 80 teams across four conferences plus three 2025 expansion teams, including Ballard — USL is set to launch the fully professional USL Super League next month.

With eight inaugural clubs (and plans to expand to 20 teams by 2026), the USL Super League will join the NWSL as the only other Division 1 women’s league in the country. But unlike the NWSL, the USL Super League will mirror the European schedule, operating from fall through spring with its official kickoff slated for August 17th.

As with USL W Ballard, the Super League also has some star power behind it. In May, WNBA All-Star rookie Angel Reese joined the ownership group of Washington's forthcoming DC Power FC.

USL W League finalists South Georgia Tormenta FC v Minnesota Aurora FC
The 2024 USL W League's semifinals kick off on Saturday, July 13th. (Jeremy Olson/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

USL W League gears up for postseason action

But before the USL Super League takes the pitch, their pre-professional counterparts will finish up their 2024 postseason run.

On Saturday, the USL W's four conference champions will square off in the league semifinals on Saturday, July 13th, with NC Courage U23 hosting Tennessee SC and the Colorado Storm facing Detroit City FC in Michigan. Winners from those two matches will then battle it out at the USL W League final on July 20th.

All USL W postseason action can be streamed live on SportsEngine Play.

Wilson, Clark Put Up Record-Breaking Numbers in Midweek WNBA Action

WNBA Las Vegas Aces A'ja Wilson blocks Nneka Ogwumike of the Seattle Storm
Las Vegas's A'ja Wilson added to her lengthy stat sheet on Wednesday. (Scott Eklund/NBAE via Getty Images)

Around the WNBA, big-name players A'ja Wilson, Kahleah Copper, Caitlin Clark, and Angel Reese made good use of Wednesday's jam-packed five-game schedule, kicking off a pre-All-Star Weekend campaign that promises not to disappoint.

Aces' A'ja Wilson racks up a perfect 20/20

Two-time MVP A’ja Wilson was the star of the show yesterday, throwing down epic numbers in one of her most successful performances so far this season

Wilson registered a 24-point, 20-rebound double-double in the Aces’ 84-79 win over Seattle, marking the six-time All-Star's first-ever 20/20 game.

Storm guard Jewell Loyd’s 28 points led the game, but between Wilson’s numbers and fellow Ace Jackie Young’s 27 points, Vegas managed to leapfrog fifth-place Seattle to secure a fourth-place spot in the WNBA standings.

WNBA star Kahleah Copper of the Phoenix Mercury drives to the basket against the Dallas Wings
With 32 points, Mercury standout Kahleah Copper led the WNBA in scoring Wednesday. (Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images)

Top-ranked WNBA teams keep scoring

At the top of the table, the Liberty beat the Sun 71-68 to oust Connecticut from the pair's previous tie for first in the standings. 

2024 WNBA All-Star DeWanna Bonner’s 22 points led the Sun, while Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu sank 21 points alongside Breanna Stewart’s 18-point, 14-rebound double-double to extend New York's record to 18-4 on the season.

And in Phoenix, the Mercury dominated the last-place Wings 100-84 behind Kahleah Copper’s 32 points — the most drained by any player that day. Yet despite double-doubles from both Teaira McCowan and Arike Ogunbowale, Dallas fell to 5-18 on the season with the loss.

WNBA Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark shoots in a game against the Washington Mystics
WNBA rookie phenom Caitlin Clark dropped 29 points for Indiana on Wednesday. (Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Rookies Clark, Reese, and Cardoso put up numbers

Fever star Caitlin Clark owned Indiana's stat sheet yesterday with 29 points and 13 assists, becoming the first player in WNBA or NBA history to drop 25+ points, five rebounds, 10+ assists, five steals, and three blocks in a single game.

Clark's effort wasn't enough to hold off the otherwise struggling Mystics, however, who stunned the Fever 89-84 behind a monster 26 points from Ariel Atkins

Chicago's rookies joined forces to lift the Sky over the Dream 78-69, as Kamilla Cardoso added her own double-double to teammate Angel Reese’s record-extending 14th

This season, Reese and Cardoso have combined to average just under 20 rebounds per game so far this season. If that metric holds, they’ll make WNBA history with the highest average for any duo in a single season.

A 2024 WNBA All-Star banner hangs outside the Footprint Center
Only 15 regular season games remain before WNBA All-Star Weekend in Phoenix. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

What happens next for WNBA teams

With All-Star Weekend tipping off one week from today, only 15 regular season games remain before the WNBA's scheduled Olympic break.

Whether they currently sit in first or last place, all 12 teams will want to hit the ground running when play resumes on August 15th.

NBA 2K25 to Feature WNBA All-Star A’ja Wilson on Cover

NBA 2K25 WNBA Edition Cover starring A'ja Wilson
Five-time WNBA All-Star A'ja Wilson will feature on both the NBA 2K25 WNBA and the dual-league NBA 2K25 All-Star Edition covers. (NBA 2K25)

Today, NBA 2K25 announced back-to-back WNBA Champion, two-time WNBA MVP, and six-time WNBA All-Star A’ja Wilson as its latest cover athlete.

Las Vegas's newly minted all-time leading scorer, Wilson will grace the cover of the GameStop exclusive NBA 2K25 WNBA Edition. She will also be featured on the dual-league All-Star Edition alongside 2024 NBA Champion Jayson Tatum.

"Being featured on the NBA 2K25 cover is a big moment for me and a testament to the ever-growing fandom of the WNBA," said A’ja Wilson in Wednesday's press release. "Seeing more and more WNBA athletes scanned into NBA 2K25 to best capture the style and confidence of the league has been empowering, and I can't wait for fans to experience it in-game."

Wilson has had a standout season so far. The back-to-back reigning Defensive Player of the Year not only topped the Aces' all-time scoring list, but also leads the league in points per game with an average of 27 and sits second in average rebounds per game with 10.9. In May, she announced a signature shoe deal with Nike, and later this month, she'll be heading to Paris as a part of Team USA's 12-player Olympic 5×5 roster. It will be the 27-year-old's second time competing in the Summer Games.

"In a year that showcases competition at the highest level — and in a play style that is uniquely one’s own, we’re thrilled to share Jayson, A’ja, and Vince as the NBA 2K25 cover athletes" said Greg Thomas, president at 2K studio Visual Concepts. "The development team has delivered another innovative experience for basketball lovers, setting up NBA 2K25 to be the next icon in this long-standing dynasty."

nba 2k25 wnba cover star a'ja wilson
"Seeing more and more WNBA athletes scanned into NBA 2K25 to best capture the style and confidence of the league has been empowering," said Wilson. (NBA 2K25)

The New-Gen version of the video game is available on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. Powered by enhanced ProPLAYTM technology, the release delivers the franchise’s most true-to-life basketball experience yet, offering players the ultimate control in how they dominate the competition in modes such as MyNBA, The W, and in The City.

According to the press release, the WNBA Edition will be available for $69.99 while the All-Star Edition will run $99.99. NBA 2K25 will be available on September 6th on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

NWSL Awards Race Heats Up Ahead of Olympic Break

Temwa Chawinga of the Kansas City Current runs with the ball in an NWSL game with the Portland Thorns
With 12 goals, Kansas City's Temwa Chawinga tops this year's NWSL Golden Boot race. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

As the NWSL heads into the Olympic break, it's time to take stock of the players currently in contention for individual accolades by season's end.

Only 10 regular season games remain after the league's August 23rd return, despite this season being four games longer than last year's campaign.

NWSL Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda in action during a NWSL match against Seattle Reign
Orlando's Barbra Banda is a strong NWSL Golden Boot award contender. (Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The NWSL Golden Boot award comes down to two

The league's Golden Boot frontrunners are well known, with Orlando's Barbra Banda and KC's Temwa Chawinga leading the pack.

At the moment, Chawinga has a slight edge on Banda even though both forwards are tied at 12 goals apiece: Chawinga has registered six assists to Banda's five, giving her the award's first tiebreaker. Banda, however, has racked up her goals in just 12 games, while Chawinga's tally has come over 16 games.

With 10 matches to go, Banda and Chawinga could be on pace to break former Chicago Red Star Sam Kerr's 18-goal single-season record.

NWSL Washington Spirit's Croix Bethune celebrates her stoppage-time equalizer against San Diego Wave FC
Washington's Croix Bethune is in the running for both the Rookie of the Year and NWSL MVP awards (Amber Searls/USA TODAY Sports)

NWSL MVP award is still anyone's game

While Banda and Chawinga are certainly shoo-ins for this year's MVP conversation, a few other players also deserve some attention.

Rookie of the Year favorite Coix Bethune leads the league in assists with a staggering nine while sitting tied for seventh in goals scored with five. 

USWNT stars Trinity Rodman and Sophia Smith should also be considered, as Rodman's passing and finishing continue to stand out while Smith's performance has resulted in 10 goals and six assists on the season.

NWSL goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger of NJ/NY Gotham FC stops the ball during a game against Bay FC
Late Gotham addition Ann-Katrin Berger might just snag the NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year award. (Karen Hickey/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Plenty of NWSL competition for defensive awards

Orlando and Gotham have the stoutest defenses in the league this year, with both Defender and Goalkeeper of the Year candidates in the mix.

Orlando defender Emily Sams has proven her versatility, playing outside back after entering the league as a center-back while also being called into her first USWNT camp.

Recently signed Gotham goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger might be behind in games played, but she's been statistically solid ever since joining the 2023 NWSL champions.

And don't count out two-time reigning Defender of the Year Naomi Girma, who has been consistently excellent even as San Diego's season has wavered.

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